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How to get speaking engagements at associations, companies and conferences

By Lori

Speak at Associations, Companies and ConferencesEdward writes,

“I have given speeches at Rotary Clubs & Kiwanis groups. I want to know how to approach associations, companies, conferences, conventions, etc. – for speaking engagements. Also, should I offer free speeches at these groups in the beginning?”

Edward, thank you for asking the question!

And the answer is…. Yes.

Okay, let me say a little more about that.

Yes, you should offer free speeches to these groups in the beginning for three BIG reasons:

  1. Free speeches build your name recognition.
  1. Speaking for free gives you an opportunity to hone your delivery and your material until it ignites hearts and minds.
  1. Free speaking can also be a gateway to other moneymaking avenues that stem from speaking, like private consulting, training, coaching or product sales.

But here’s news that may shock you: even after you’re “established,” you might also be giving free talks. Only now, they’ll be at the biggest, most prestigious events.


It may sound counterintuitive, but among the most successful speakers, there’s no hard and fast line between speaking for big fees and speaking for free.

Public speakers who use speaking to grow their business, motivate the masses or those who want to make a living of being on stage understand that sometimes, you’ll speak for free because it’s a smart return on investment.

Chris Widener, a personal development and leadership speaker who commands $20,000 a speech told Forbes he’ll “also speak – often for free – at large multilevel marketing conferences large where he sells a variety of products he’s created, including sets of CDs and DVDs, e-books, and hard copy books.”

His take home haul from those events is far north of $20,000.

And now let’s look at how things generally work in the Association/Company/Conference speaking world.

(As always, your mileage may vary.)

Members only_sm


Looking for the best way to kick off your association speaking tour?

Start locally.

When you’ve found an industry or association that’s a good fit for your speaking or training topics, offer to present to a local chapter first.

Then, once you’ve delivered a fabulous experience, chapter members will recommend you to other chapters and even to the larger regional or national organization as a speaker.

You see, association chapter leaders communicate and support other chapter leaders by sharing valuable resources…which could include you!

(Within each local chapter of an association, there are often several members who participate in organizing statewide, regional or national events, too.)

How to approach associations for speaking opportunities

You can reach out to these associations cold, and hope that your email and phone calls are persuasive.

And you can send big fat speaker kit packets and cross your fingers.

But I’ve found a different method to be more effective than the “spray and pray” approach.

Find someone in your network who knows someone in that organization:

  • Email or call friends, neighbors, and colleagues, asking if they know anyone involved in the association.
  • Ask people you meet at events if they know anyone in your target association.
  • Look up the association on LinkedIn, which will often show if you have a second-degree connection to one of the association’s members.

Here’s why this approach works better than cold calling: people often ignore solicitations from strangers. After all, association staffers and volunteers are busy.

But a request from a friend or business colleague? That gets an answer.

Of course, if you just can’t find a “warm” connection, go in cold and heat it up! Follow these simple steps:

1. First, spend some time looking at the organization’s website, event calendar and social media to get to know the types of events it holds, topics covered and speakers.

2. Next, find the staff or board listing (in the case of a volunteer-run organization) on the website. Often, you’re looking for someone with Education, Programs or Events in their organizational title. If those are missing, go straight for the Director or President.

3. Then, craft your pitch. Don’t be salesy, but do include a clear description of your topic, your bio and why your topic is a good fit for the organization.

4. Finally, send it off to the organizational contact you found.

5. Follow up as needed. (That usually means two or three times at the most.)


The process for getting speaking opportunities with companies is similar to working with associations.

Find your target companies. Then search your network (using the same process as you did with associations) for a connection to the company, who can then introduce you to the right person to hear your pitch.

If you can’t find a connection, approach local companies directly, often through their Human Resources, or training and development groups. (However, depending on your topic, you may reach out to specific departments, like Sales.)

Here, too, giving a talk or workshop that moves hearts and minds will go a long way toward getting you booked for multiple sessions, long-term training or with other organizations.

Bonus tip: members of associations are often employees of companies! Own the stage at that association chapter meeting first, and then ask the audience members to suggest companies and other organizations that could benefit from hearing your talk.

Another client includes this question on her presentation evaluation form.

The best time to ask for more speaking referrals is when you're basking in the warm glow of a successful speaking gig.

The best time to ask for more speaking referrals is when you’re basking in the warm glow of a successful speaking gig.


Conferences range from one-time gatherings to recurring local, statewide, regional and national events, often organized by associations, companies and media partners.

Some conferences are organized informally, and seek speakers who are recommended by members and peers. (These are typically smaller events.)

Other events have a formal submission process, starting with a Call for Presentations or Call for Speakers. Speakers are typically vetted by a committee that evaluates submissions based on the event’s theme and desired topics as well as the speaker’s experience, reputation and speaking ability.

Pro tip #1: Event organizers know that getting bums in seats is much harder than it used to be.

That’s why some organizers prefer speakers with a large platform – speakers are expected to help market the event to their own subscribers and social media followers.

Pro tip #2: Don’t assume that bigger is better when it comes to getting paid to speak.

I’ve spoken at local, regional and national events from the same industry association. Here’s what happened at each:

  • The local event did not pay a speaker’s fee, but I have gotten referrals for business from people who attended my workshop.
  • The regional conference (a gathering of the members across 6 or 7 states) paid travel expenses and a small stipend.
  • The national conference did not pay a speaker’s fee, nor did it cover travel expenses, contending that speaking at its national conference was an honor beyond payment.

Sad truth: The no-pay for session speakers policy is not unusual. In fact, it’s more common than not. While headliners like New York Times bestselling authors, top athletes, and newsmakers like astronauts, business and political figures may score $15,000 to $75,000 for a single conference keynote, breakout speakers are paid in “exposure.”

Just this week, one of my clients was asked to submit a proposal as a break out speaker for an upcoming national conference.

Here’s what she’d get, if selected:

“Presenter Benefits

  • Opportunity to influence the practice of [industry] and to enhance the future of the profession
  • Promotion of presenter’s credentials on the [Association] website, in Convention programs, and in print and electronic marketing materials including the [Association] 2016 Convention App
  • Recognition of presenter’s subject matter expertise by [Association]
  • Full complimentary registration to the 2016 [Association] International Convention & Expo in Philadelphia.

[Association] does not pay per diem, honoraria or expenses for session presenters.

Is it a universal truth that conferences don’t pay breakout speakers? No, but the practice is common and new speakers are often surprised to learn that.

Your fame boosting assignment:

If you’re looking to share your brilliance by speaking at associations, companies and conferences, start by picking three targets.

This week, find your connection to the organization and reach out with a request to speak. (Feel free to get creative with the steps I’ve listed.)

I’m all kinds of fired up about you, superstar.

The 5 minutes a day activity that’s like free advertising for your business

By Lori

Famous in your field: make a name on OPB (Other People’s Blogs)

Want a way to increase your visibility online and even get on the radar of some of the influencers (including journalists) in your industry?

(OF COURSE you do!)

Comment on their articles and blog posts.

By adding smart, helpful, thoughtful comments, you will stand out.

Here’s why:

If you frequently visit and leave comments on sites where your ideal client “hangs out” online, you’ll get valuable exposure to a targeted audience.

Even better, many sites even include a photo of you and link to your website with your comment – that’s like free advertising!

Visit regularly, keep adding value to the community and over time, you’ll form a relationship with the site owners and authors, too.

I’ve made business friends, found great resources and been interviewed by people I “met” through commenting on blogs and articles.

It’s really that easy. But it may not happen overnight. Showing up consistently is key.

The folks who put their sweat and tears into writing terrific articles and blog posts really do want to hear from you. So does their audience. But a ho-hum “good article” or “great tips” won’t cut it.

If you’re looking to stand out online, you gotta add a little something extra.

Stumped for ideas? Here are five to spark your commenting flow:

  • Comment + Expand – React to what you’ve read by commenting and expanding on the article’s idea. Share something from your personal story or experience related to the topic. Talk about results you’ve gotten or make a suggestion.
  • Comment + Extend – This is a “yes and…” type of comment. What else can you add to the conversation that’s interesting or helpful? Extend the article or posts idea by sharing an idea of your own or a resource.
  • Comment + New Angle – Offer another way to look at the topic or a different approach to solve a problem.
  • Comment + Contrary– Find yourself disagreeing with the writer? Feel free to share that in your comment, along with the reasons behind your contrarian stance. A little difference of opinion can spice up a string of complimentary comments.Just be sure that you express your opinion intelligently and respectfully. Most authors invite thoughtful dialogue – it generates greater interest in the post among all readers.
  • Comment + a Comment – Like a comment you’ve just read? Have another idea to expand on it? Think the commenter is way off base? Comment on another commenter!

Your fame building assignment:

This week, pick three blogs or websites read by your ideal client or an influencer you want to connect with. Read a few of the articles and posts. Add your comments.

Next, schedule a specific 5 minute time slot on your calendar once or twice each week to visit, read and comment. Watch your network and reputation grow, superstar!

The Case for Content Marketing for Professional Service Firms

By Lori

There’s a new-ish movement in the marketing world. For the last decade or so, savvy businesses – especially those selling expertise, advice and non-commodity type products have turned away from old school advertising and promotion to creating content that sells without being “sales-y.”

So what is content?

Here’s a definition, from the people who ought to know, the Content Marketing Institute: “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Depending on your business, content could be almost anything: a simple checklist, a series of articles, whitepapers, reports, your company blog, podcasts, webinars… It’s anything created for the purpose of providing valuable information to your client.

Why content marketing is so effective for professionals and firms

Content marketing lets you communicate regularly with your prospects and clients without overtly selling. Instead of buying ads in publications (which are ignored by your prospect) or cold calling to set up appointments (which are avoided by your prospect), you create and publish information that prospects welcome and look forward to. Heck, sometimes they even seek out your content.

It’s pull marketing, not push marketing. Prospects are drawn to you, rather than you pushing your firm brochures and sales meetings at them.

Your KLT factor

Let’s face it, as professional service firms and consultants, you are “selling the invisible.” One of the most important considerations in the client’s selection process is the know, like and trust factor. Your client needs to feel that they know you, they have feel that they’d enjoy working with you and that you’d do a good job for them. Using content helps prospective clients get to know you, your expertise, your style and the unique value you provide, without your physical presence.

Content is your marketing workhorse

One of the best features of content marketing is how it helps you leverage your marketing and sales efforts. Instead of making sales calls and meeting with prospects one-on-one, your content reaches tens, hundreds or thousands of people. Content works for you, 24-7-365.

Content in action

Wondering if content can really pack the marketing wallop you need for your business? Here’s a true story:

A mid-sized regional engineering firm learned about a new freeway interchange design. Looking for a way to stand out in an increasingly commoditized industry, the firm’s marketing director wrote an explanatory article about the new interchange design. Instead of promoting the company’s design engineers, the article explained the new interchange concept, how it worked, and the situations for which it was best suited. No selling at all.

What happened next? In a few months, news of this novel freeway design hit the media. People began searching the web, looking for information and experts on this new type of interchange. The firm’s article hit the #1 position on Google. They received calls from interested clients from all over the world. Reporters for major newspapers quoted their staff members in news stories. Because this firm wrote the most informative article on the interchange design, they were widely viewed as the experts on that topic. Ka-ching.

Take action

This week think about your business from your client’s perspective. What kind of information would help them to understand your industry and the service you provide? How could you help them to learn what they need to know to make the best decisions?

Build Your Visibility, Even When Someone Else is on Stage

By Lori

I’ve preached a fair bit about the business-building value that speaking has for your business. It positions you as an expert and gives crowds of people a tantalizing preview of what it would be like to work with you. As as speaker, you’re treated like a celebrity by the event attendees, who’ll seek you out.

But what if you aren’t in the front of the room? What if you’re just one of the people sitting in the audience, squirming in your hard-backed chair? No worries, you can still build your brand and business fame, even when someone else is the speaker.

Ask a question.

But add a little something extra.

During the Q & A portion of the event, you can create a mini-commercial for you and your business by asking a smart, thoughtful question. (Be genuine, friendly and confident when you ask – your fellow attendees will be able to spot a slimy, hollow attempt at self-promotion.)

  • Stand tall.
  • Make eye contact with the speaker and one or two people around you. State your name, your business and what you do (in 10 words or less. Slime-free.)
  • If it’s genuine and concise, compliment the speaker on a specific piece of information, idea, or the delivery.
  • Then, ask your great question.

After the session, many attendees will crowd around the speaker, but a few will approach you because you’ve been “introduced” in a public forum.

Take action:

At the very next event you attend, come up with several thoughtful questions that you can ask the speaker. Done right, you’ll be in the spotlight, even when someone else is on stage.


16 ways to get more of what you want

By Lori


My friend Gina is not a “car chick.” Her head doesn’t turn for an Audi, Porsche or Mercedes S-class. She’s been driving the same mom-van for more than a decade.

For her, cars are just a way to get from one place to another.

Then last week, she floored me with this comment, “I really want a Tesla. I’m going to buy one when I get my bonus this year.”


The funny thing is, I’ve found out that Gina is not alone in her Tesla-mania. Business Insider reported on a study of Tesla owners:

“What we can glean from this is that Tesla is indeed special — so special that buyers are willing to pay substantially more for the privilege of Tesla ownership than to park a traditional car in the driveway.”

“On average, owners were willing to pay 60% more for a Tesla…” [Yahoo News]

Why would a woman who doesn’t care about cars suddenly long for a particular model vehicle?

And, um, pay 60% more?!

Aren’t we all practical, rational humans who buy the best product at the best price?

I’ve got three words for you: emotional hot buttons. 

What are emotional hot buttons?

Those factors that hit us right in the feels (whether we admit it or not.) They make us die to have one thing, and totally abhor another.

There are certain emotional hot buttons that when triggered will force people to take some kind of action. Hot buttons make us buy, listen to, read, or follow certain things and people, but not others.

When your hot buttons are hit, the response you feel is pure emotion.

Logic goes out the window (no matter what you tell yourself!)

Do I buy that darling Kate Spade New York Cherie Three-Quarter-Sleeve Coat because I’m cold?

No. A stuffed Hefty sack would solve that practical problem.

I buy it because emotionally, I think it will make me chic, sparkling, vibrant and a little madcap.

Me in that coat = Audrey Hepburn in Charade.

Connect to their emotional hot buttons

Your audience – whether it’s a group of professionals listening to you speak, the staff you lead at the office or your kids’ hockey team – is driven by desire, too.

And when you can connect your message to their emotional hot buttons, you’ll motivate them to listen to you, follow you and join your

Exactly which hot buttons hook you the most varies from person to person, but there are some generally universal triggers.

Author and marketer Barry Feig has identified 16 hot buttons in Hot Button Marketing: Push the Emotional Buttons That Get People to Buy:

  • desire for control
  • I’m better than you
  • excitement of discovery
  • revaluing
  • family values
  • desire to belong
  • fun is its own reward
  • poverty of time
  • desire to get the best
  • self-achievement
  • sex/love/romance
  • nurturing response
  • reinventing oneself
  • make me smarter
  • power/dominance/influence
  • wish fulfillment

I’ll add a few variations that I’ve seen from my clients:

  • desire to be known for something
  • to leave a legacy
  • to effect change

As Barry says, “Consumers buy from emotions they’re not even aware of…. Hot buttons are the keys to the psyches of your customers.”

For my friend Gina, the idea of owning a Tesla is 100% emotional hot button driven.

But what does this have to do with you?

When you’re selling something, don’t just rely on the old standbys to motivate. Making more money, saving money, or having the most features can be powerful for rational decisions, but hitting an emotional hot button or two will ignite desire, which overrides rationality.

Emotional drivers

Let’s say you’re a coach or consultant to small business owners. You could focus your appeal on how you can help small business owners make more money. (And that’s what most coach-sultants do.)

But if you pay attention to your prospective client’s hot buttons, you might find out that one of his major emotional drivers is Desire for Control.

Here’s what that looks like:

He started his business to have more control than in his corporate job, but instead he spends his days in reaction mode, his mood and self-esteem battered by the latest high or low in his business.

His staff gets along one day, and squabbles the next.

Orders are up (yay!) Orders are down (arghh!)

If you, the small business coach, can show him how working with you will create the control he’s after, he’ll be hooked.

Do people have just one emotional hot button?

Nope, people can have multiple hot buttons that motivate them to buy something or take action.

Let’s say you look around our small business owner’s office and see picture after picture of his wife, kids and extended family.

You notice a toddler seat in his car.

A clearly “handcrafted” clay pencil holder on the desk.

Clearly, a strong candidate for the Family Values hot button.

During your conversation, you can paint a picture of the psychic rewards of family togetherness that he’ll enjoy once he starts working with you.

Gotta team? Hit ‘em in the hot buttons

If you manage a team, you can retain your best employees by combining both external rewards, like public kudos, bonuses and raises, with internal rewards like new challenges. (Boom! I’m Better than You and Self-Achievement hot buttons.)

Become an emotional hot button detective

Ask your audience (whether it’s your staff, a prospect, or an actual audience) questions to uncover some of their emotional hot buttons. Notice when their eyes light up and when they glaze over.

Weave some emotional hot buttons into your marketing.

Sprinkle them into your conversations with your team, for motivation.

Spark those desires in your presentations or talks.

Your fame boosting assignment

This week, hone your emotional hot button-finding skills.

There’s one dead-simple way to do this. When you find yourself in a selling situation – whether it’s selling an idea, a message, a service or a next step – try to uncover at least one emotional hot button.

Whip out the easiest, cheapest research tool available:

Asking “why?

Boom! 100% chance of awesome.

Power Up Your Marketing, Part 3 (The Speaking Series)

By Lori

Hello and welcome back for Part 3 of The Speaking Series. In part 1, I laid out the reasons why speaking is such a powerful way to market yourself as a consultant, and the business building benefits of speaking programs for professional service firms. Part 2 was the proof – I shared results from three different types of professionals – an engineer, a management consultant and a technology firm.

And now in this post, I want to let you in on a few mistakes that business professionals make, that keep them from reaping the business building benefits of speaking.

You’re doing it wrong

Have you or your firm pursued speaking engagements, only to experience lackluster results? You might be making one or more of these common mistakes.

Not speaking to audiences of potential clients. It’s natural; many firm professionals want to stay in their “comfort zone.” Technical types may pursue speaking engagements for themselves, but those events are typically full of academics who judge the merits of the ideas discussed, but don’t hire firms to perform work. Likewise, your staffers may deliver presentations at professional organizations made of their colleagues and peers, rather than potential clients.

Not proposing topics that are interesting to the potential audience. The best topics are those that your target audience would consider to be “hot” (meaning that its current and generates a great deal of interest.)

Not demonstrating the expertise of the speaker. Make sure your professional’s bio includes credibility indicators, and isn’t just a tedious work history. Where you can, tout your professional’s previous speaking experience and include session evaluation information – it offers conference organizers an independent level of assurance that your speaker will perform well.

Ways to market potential speakers

Want to increase your win rate for speaking engagements? Copy these techniques used by professional speakers’ bureaus.

1. Stack the odds in your favor. Before you submit a proposal to an organization, do your homework. Read about the organization’s membership and mission. This will give you insight into the information its members would value and what the hot topics might be.

2. Make the conference planner’s job as painless as possible. Provide all the information the selection committee needs to choose you (or the firm professional you’re promoting.) Here’s what goes into your package:

  • Brief bio
  • Clear statement about the topics your speaker covers (i.e. sewer modeling, hydraulics and hydrology, regulatory compliance.)
  • List of topics (with catchy titles) and what the attendee will learn with an abstract about each session.
  • Video demo of your professional, live and in action. YouTube is a perfect place to host this. Include the link on your sheet.
  • Testimonials and evaluations from organizations that the potential client can relate to.
  • List of companies/organization your professional has previously spoken for.

Because this is meant to be concise, all the written content should fit on a single page.

Take action

This week, position yourself for speaking success! Create a one page speaker’s sheet with the six elements listed above.

Want to jump start your public speaking? Start here.

The 3 Minute Trick to Getting More Traffic to Your LinkedIn Profile

By Lori

Try a little experiment with me, will you?

Search for your own name on Google.  What results pop up?

Chances are, your LinkedIn profile is near or the top of the results page. (Unless you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, which means you need to get busy creating yours!) When Google’s algorithm determines what search results are most relevant to display, it evaluates a number of factors including a websites “authority”, or how credible a source it is on the particular search topic. And Google considers your LinkedIn profile to be a pretty authoritative source of information about you.

So how do you use this to your advantage? There is an easy way to “draft off” LinkedIn’s Google power to boost your own business authority. It’s all about keywords, my friend.

Brainstorm for a moment. What are the keywords that people would use when searching for the service that you offer? If you don’t know (or even if you think that you do know), ask half a dozen of your ideal clients and prospects what specific words and phrases they would use to search for a service like yours.

Next, add them to your LinkedIn profile.

There are five LinkedIn profile sections that you want to load up with your keywords and phrases:

  • Professional “Headline”
  • Current Work Experience
  • Past Experience
  • Summary
  • Specialties

If your business provides strategic planning to entrepreneurs, you would use keyword phrases like ‘strategic planning’ as often as possible in those five key LinkedIn profile sections. Really pack ’em in. Be sure to throw in a couple of variations, too, like ‘strategy consultant,’ ‘strategy planning’, too.

Your fame-boosting assignment:

1. Talk with 5-6 of your ideal clients and prospects and ask them what words they would type into Google or LinkedIn to find a business or service like yours.

2. Edit your LinkedIn profile’s five key sections, using those keyword phrases as often as possible (while remaining readable, of course!)

Power Up Your Marketing, Part 2 (The Speaking Series)

By Lori

Welcome back! In a previous post, I laid out the case for using speaking as a core element of your fame campaign. Nothing works like speaking for increasing your reach, influence, reputation and building an expert position. (You can read a quick overview of why speaking is so effective in Part 1.)

In this post, I’ll share a few success stories from professional service firms who’ve leveraged the power of public speaking.

Proof of concept

Sure, speaking is important for prestige,  but does it really bring in the bucks?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Let’s look at three examples from different professionals.


Robert Czachorski, PE, PH, is an engineer with OHM, an engineering/architecture/planning firm, headquartered in Livonia, Michigan. Robert is a modeling guru, who, together with his college roommate, an aerospace engineer/software developer, developed a novel way to model sewer systems. His new modeling method gives the client precise information to right-size the sewer system, meeting regulatory requirements and avoiding ‘overbuilding’. Because the approach is new, Robert has found it effective to present his method, along with project results at conferences. It gives prospects an in-depth view of the idea, and offers proof, in the form of case studies.

Robert says, “I meet new leads at every presentation. There are at least 3-4 at each one. Over the last 5 years, I’ve done between 10 and 15 presentations, so that’s easily 40 to 50 new opportunities.”

“Three people come to mind who I met through presentations – a contact for a large municipal sewer authority, and two partners from other firms. Those relationships are leading to hundreds of thousands of dollars of new business.”

Management Consulting

Carl Friesen, a writer, author and management consultant, also testifies to the business-building benefits of speaking. “I’m living proof that speaking engagements work – I received my two biggest clients, one of which I’ve had for ten years, through one speaking engagement in Vancouver in 1999.”

Software Technology

Beck Technology, Ltd., is a Dallas-based developer of specialized macro BIM software, used in preconstruction to create fast and accurate 3D cost models. Andy O’Nan, Beck Tech’s director of business development, is a believer in the power of speaking engagements. He’s devoted a significant portion of his marketing budget to securing and delivering presentations to regional and national audiences, using a consultant to perform much of the work.

Beck Tech uses speaking engagements to get the word out about the company’s software. Because it’s a new and unique offering, presentations give Beck Tech leaders a non-promotional way to introduce their product and its capabilities to their target market. Beck’s presentations are based on customer success stories and industry trends.

“We never give a sales pitch – that’s important to us,” says O’Nan. “Instead we focus on trends and case studies that impact our target market.”

And the results? “It’s powerful. Each time we give a presentation, the visits to our website increase significantly, along with the number of people requesting trials of our software. And now that we’ve focused on developing a speaking program, opportunities come to us.” O’Nan continues, “Stewart Carroll, our COO, was recently invited to be a keynote speaker at a conference organized by Disney, in a room filled with industry leaders.”

Ready to try your hand at developing a speaking program to propel your professional service firm into fame and fortune? Tune in for Part 3 of The Speaking Series. I’ll share the most common mistakes that firms make, derailing their success with speaking.

Want to jump start your public speaking? Start here.

Five places to find your target market

By Lori

Image of Jack Russell Terrier giving a human a high five

Five places to find your target market

Whether you’re a consultant, public speaker, trainer, photographer or other business professional, you want to find your tribe.

Your people. The ones who need the magic that you deliver.

If you’ve been in business for years, you’ve got it down. You already know where those folks hang out.

But when you’re starting out? Or shifting to a new business or career? How do you find the prospects, audiences and customers who will become your raving fans?

It’s a recipe of empathy and ingenuity, seasoned with research.

(For a backgrounder on using market research to find your target market, check out this free market research guide from Shopify.)

Let’s say that you’re an up-and-coming expert in cyber security (hey Scott!) and you’re looking for more presentation opportunities.

Your initial brainstorming list might include the usual suspects:

  • Information technology professionals
  • Chief Technology Officers
  • IT managers
  • Database administrators

Those are the easy targets. People in the IT realm already know that cyber security is vital.

This is where the empathy comes in…

Put yourself into the shoes of other business professionals. Who should care about cyber security because it affects their roles and outcomes?

  • Chief Financial Officers
  • Chief Executives Officers
  • Company Directors
  • M & A consultants
  • Government leaders
  • Military leaders
  • Small business owners

And now that you’ve got your expanded list of prospects, think about where you can find people in those positions, in large numbers.

1. Mine your network

Your richest resource is the people you already know. This includes clients, former clients, prospects, vendors, friends and family.

Ask them what groups they belong to.

What organizations would host a workshop or would invite you to present to their members?

What organizations might host a workshop for their clients?

What conferences can you pitch yourself as a breakout presenter?

But to make it really effective, you can’t send a bulk email to all your contacts. A few very close pals might respond to it, but most of your network won’t.

It puts a psychic burden on your friends and colleagues to do work for you.

The way to get the best results is to actually talk to each person. (Note: I hear you, this is incredibly time consuming. Deal with it. #Sorrynotsorry.)

Make it easy on your friends. Just ask what groups they belong to, ask a few follow up questions about the group or groups and do your own evaluation of whether it’s a good fit for you.

2. Local publications

Your local newspaper and city or regional business publications typically have community events calendars. (Most are available online!)

Scour them weekly to find events and groups.

3. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is more than your online resume. As the world’s largest professional network, it’s a hella good source of business intelligence.

Let’s look at two ways to find your target market on LinkedIn:

Groups. Groups are LinkedIn’s feature that lets members who share an interest or profession gather online, have discussions and share information with each other. As a member, you can join as many as 50 groups.

First, go to your groups. You’ll also see a prompt to find more groups.

Use the search field to find Groups to join. You can search for groups to join using a keyword, company name or school.

Try searches based on geography (Ann Arbor or Detroit groups for me) or based on an industry or topic.

Groups___LinkedInThe second way to find your target market using LinkedIn involves a little more labor:

Review your contacts to see what organizations they belong to.

Start by looking at your Connections. If you’re looking locally, filter your connections by location.

Then look at each person’s profile to see what groups or organizations are listed. You might find groups or organizations listed in the Experience section, the Volunteer section, Organizations section, or under Additional Info.


And finally, you can see the LinkedIn Groups your Connections have joined as well.

4. Eventbrite and Meetup groups

Eventbrite is a web-based event registration. And is the world’s largest network of local groups.

You can search for events based on location, date or by using keywords.

As an example, on Eventbrite, I searched for “Leadership” and found 388 upcoming events in my area. I can look at each one in the search results, refine them further by date or geography or category.


I can also subscribe to get an RSS feed of those events, delivered to my inbox. Genius.

5. Trade or industry associations

A trade association, also known as an industry group or business association is an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry.

Associations Unlimited, aka, the Encyclopedia of Associations, is a huge resource, but you may need a library membership to access it.

AU provides information on nonprofit membership associations and professional societies worldwide (20,000 international, 134,000 U.S. national, regional, state and local), plus IRS information on over 300,000 U.S. nonprofit organizations.

Sounds fantastic, right? 100,000+ groups, ripe for your services?

But there’s a catch. You can’t jump in and start pitching your wares.

Marketing to professional and trade associations means becoming part of the organization.

Go to their events. Meet people. Get a feel for the people who attend.

Volunteer for the organization. From taking registration at the door, to helping behind the scenes, volunteering within the organization makes you part of it, quickly.

Join a committee. You’ll get to know and create relationships with the key influencers quickly, while you demonstrate your value to the group.

Your fame boosting assignment:

This week, pick one of these five ways to find your target market and get on it!

I see your name in lights…

Power Up Your Marketing: Speak

By Lori

Want to know the single most effective practice to become famous in your field? It’s not the newest social media tool. It’s good old-fashioned public speaking. Here’s why this centuries-old tool carries so much power today.

The value of public speaking for professionals

With speaking, you advance your firm’s reach, reputation and increase your profit. How? Because speaking helps:

  • Strengthen your expert position. (More on this below.)
  • Build your firm’s brand, gaining recognition, visibility and respect.
  • Increase your influence, as you spread ideas and information.
  • Enhance your ability to promote your firm and your services, in a non-salesy way

Why it works: rarity, psychology and prestige

One reason that speaking is so powerful is that it requires self-confidence. Few people will do it. (You’ve heard about the studies showing that, for many people, fear of public speaking ranks higher than their own death, right?) By taking an action that so many fear, professionals who speak are assured of standing out from most competitors.

Speaking is targeted marketing

Presentations and events are largely opt-in affairs. The audience (when you’ve done your homework) is made of individuals who are already qualified prospects. By showing up, they’ve demonstrated an interest in the service you have to offer. And viewing a presentation offers “proof” for the potential clients – they have a tangible example of how you and your firm is different; not just because your marketing materials say so.

Psychology of authority

The act of standing before a group and demonstrating knowledge on a topic is, by itself, a credibility indicator. Most attendees assume that because a person has been invited to speak, he or she is a recognized expert on the subject. We’re all unconsciously biased to view a speaker as an authority figure and a subject matter expert. Make that work for you!

Prestige factor

When an individual wears a speaker’s badge at an event, he or she dons a cloak of celebrity. Fellow conference goers strike up conversations with speakers at lunch, breaks and sessions. As a savvy professional, you can leverage this effect by engaging as much as possible with prospects and influencers during and after the event. This natural allure gives you dozens of opportunities to “seed” conversations with information that sells without being salesy.

Take action

  • Zero in on speaking topics that will increase your reach and build your reputation. Grab a piece of paper and list the most common questions that you’re asked about your area of expertise. If you’re an wealth manager, for example, start with the basic questions that every contact and prospect has.
  • Next, make a list of current issues in your field. Are there changing laws? New regulatory requirements that impact your business? A new service delivery model that will save time, money or hassle? (Try to stay focused only on those issues that impact your clients, not yourself and colleagues!)
  • For the next two weeks, pay careful attention to your clients and prospects. Listen carefully to their questions and concerns and probe for more whenever you have an opportunity.

Stay tuned! In a future post, I’ll give how-to advice on the mechanics of creating your own speaking program.

Want to jump start your public speaking? Start here.